Jubilee

Sunset tonight begins Yom Kippur on the Jewish lunar calendar. Why do followers of Jesus care? For one, Jesus is Jewish! That is His context. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, has special significance this year. This Jewish year of 5776 is a year of Jubilee. Every 50 years is a year of Jubilee. It is written about in Leviticus 25. The intent is to restore God’s order to society. Debts are to be canceled and land restored to their original owners… well actually, to our Creator’s original stewards, because in reality, everything belongs to the one who made us. He put humanity in charge of managing it.

My tiny shofar. Shofars trumpet in the year of Jubilee!

                            My tiny shofar. Shofars trumpet in the year of Jubilee!

There is not much evidence that anyone actually observed the Jubilee as written in Leviticus. I’m pretty sure human nature took care of that, but personally I believe the spiritual reality of Jubilee remains intact. I can not begin to grasp the depths of what that looks like, but I will risk sharing a few gut level thoughts from my humble perspective of someone who has attempted to follow Jesus as faithfully as I can for over 35 years.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a parable of the wheat harvest and the weeds growing up together. To me, it feels like I am watching it happen. Awe inspiriting technological advances, discoveries to cure diseases, three American men disarming a terrorist on a train in Europe…but there is the terrorist in Europe who needed to be disarmed, the flood of war ravaged people fleeing in hope of a peaceful life and police, dedicated to our protection, being targeted and killed in cold blood. Appears to me to be a clear attempt at anarchy. The wheat and weeds growing up together.

Back in late May I wrote about a spiritual shift…God is in the air…. Well, I have a sense of the presence of God, pregnant with hope, offering courage for difficulties ahead. On the Day of Atonement followers of Jesus remember Jesus as the lamb of God, the final sacrifice to bring us back into right relationship with or Creator. I am reminded: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) I am to manage what my Creator has given me in a way that pleases Him. I am not my own.

As we begin this year of Jubilee and we watch the wheat and the weeds grow up together, remembering that the earth and all that is in it belongs to the Creator we begin the work of restoration. It begins in our heads and our hearts. Thinking and looking at our areas of influence from the place of stewards for the Creator and not ultimately in charge is always a wise place to begin.

So I ask myself, where in my areas of influence have I acted more like I’m the chief, forgetting I and my things ultimately belong to the one who made me? They are gifts to me to steward. How can I adjust my heart and mind to this reality? 

Thank you Abba for your many abundant gifts in time, talents and belongings. I ask you to use this year of Jubilee to teach me to hold all loosely and steward well, to bring You glory! Amen

10 Days Of Prayer

This year 10 Days Of Prayer is from September 13 – 23, 2015. It is set according to the Jewish Lunar calendar between the Biblical feast of Rosh Hosannah, the Jewish New Year to the celebration of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Most of what follows is taken directly from the 10days.net web pages.10days_FINAL (Web)

10 Days: What is it?

10 Days is an annual opportunity for the Body of Christ in your area to step away from normal routines of daily life and enter into an extended time of experiencing God together through worship, prayer, fasting, and fellowship.  It’s a way for all the believers in your city to unite with Jesus at the center. It’s rooted in the 10 Days between the biblical Feasts of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.

10 Days is intended to be part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21: “Let them be one as we are one.”

UNITY

10 Days is a way to reveal and advance the unity of the Body of Christ in your region Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope…”

10 Days is intended to bring together Christians from many different traditions, denominations, and ethnicities of a region to seek God together.  While a larger body of believers can’t meet together as a city or region daily or weekly, an annual season of joining together is attainable and beneficial.

Since we can only be one “in Christ”, the unity we seek is centered around the person of Jesus Christ.  Praying for and with one another, leads to loving one another more. Ultimately, unity is nothing more or less than love for one another empowered by the Holy Spirit!

10 Days is rooted in the historic and biblical Christian faith as expressed most simply through the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds.

MATURITY

10 Days is an opportunity to deepen, refine, and mature followers of Jesus

Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth…”

10 Days is a time of focusing our attention on God and unplugging from the world, even from good things like food, work, or entertainment.

It’s like a spiritual overhaul, an extended time of letting God check “what’s under the hood”.  Often, this can result in incredible personal transformation.  God wants the Church to be a “pure and spotless bride.” 10 Days is an opportunity for God to move us into that identity as never before.  10 Days can be a catalytic season for groups and individuals, leading to refreshed love, renewed faith, deepening in the knowledge of God, and new callings and ministries being released.

LONGING FOR HIS RETURN

10 Days is designed to stir-up longing for the return of Jesus  Rom 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance…”

While longing for Christ’s return is a basic concept in Scripture, it’s something that has not been a focus for many of us.  Jesus is not coming back to “marry” a Church that’s indifferent to his return.  He’s coming back for a Bride that’s “eagerly waiting” and desiring His return.  The specific details of Christ’s return can be controversial and we’re not promoting a specific theological perspective on this issue. The overriding reality is this: Christ will come again and his followers are to “long for and hasten” his coming (2 Peter 3:12).

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I have been involved with organizing the 10 Days on the North Shore of Boston for eight or so years. Every year is different as various churches take different roles. Some cities have one location with different organizers and leaders each night.

We on the North Shore have opted to meet in a different locations, often in different contiguous towns, each of the 10 nights. This allows us to fully experience the different traditions of each church. It is a wonderful way to get to know each other. We have also added a week day noon to 1pm prayer at one of the local churches.

To learn more and see the daily devotionals for this year, click here. Form there you can go to gatherings to see if one is in your area.

Have you thought about worshiping and praying outside your tradition? Why or why not? Ask Abba what He might lead you to try…or not. =} 

PS this is up early this week so you can know about the 10 Days before it is largely past.

The Opposite Of Fear

This post is on “9-11,” a day that brings fear to the heart of any person who remembers that day in American history. Like Pearl Harbor to the “Greatest Generation,” September 11, 2001 changed our culture forever. And every year since, the anniversary brings increased threats of terrorism against the United States. We became a nation terrorized that day, mission accomplished by the terrorists. Or was it?

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World Trade Center New York, just before the impact of the second plane. 9/11, 2001. Photo from DailyMail.com, 9 February 2011 Copyright Corbis Sygma

There are many kinds of fear. Terror is an intense form of fear often brought on by trauma. As I looked for a suitable photo for this post I found myself in tears as I remembered watching TV as people jumped over 100 stories, choosing to die on impact than by fire. Eventually the networks thought better about what to show, but I’ll never forget.

On that day my then 13-year-old son wanted to enlist in the military. Too young to be accepted, he later joined ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) in college, going on to serve two tours in Afghanistan. Even though he is out of the Army, he is forever changed by his vehicle hitting an IED (Improvised Exploding Device.) He and his men are physically fine but live with trauma from their near death experiences. (All tied to 9-11)

So how do we overcome the fear? There are lots of therapies and practical things that contribute to our overcoming, but the key is the opposite of fear: the perfect love of God. 1 John 4:18-19 states our hope clearly. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”

If we are fearful, we have not yet tapped into the infinite love of God for us. We may be focused in on a traumatic event or the drip, drip of every day things that do not go our way. Some are seemingly always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” Expecting punishment multiplies our fear.

Our Creator did not make us to punish us. He made us to live in loving relationship, for eternity….beginning here and now.

For me, when I realize I am losing sight of the goodness of God in large or small areas, I think about His promises and His perfect ability to fulfill His promises.

I stop.

I take a breath.

I refocus on the perfect love of God for me. For every one of us.

I Ask for forgiveness because I once again forgot.

I thank God for Jesus who already paid the punishment so I do not have to.

I breathe again, and feel my blood pressure begin to head in the direction of a healthy normal.

I thank God that His promises are true and they are for me…for every one who accepts them.

In the case of national traumas like 9/11 I ask God to deal justly, and pray for God to reveal His perfect love to all those who wish to continue the terror.

I pray a blessing on them: that they would experience even more of the love of God than I have come to experience. Like the Apostle Paul, who before coming to faith persecuted the Church, I pray for them to become radical lovers of Jesus.

We do not have to stay captive to our fears! By connecting with the perfect love of God that casts out fear we can allow His promises of love, provision and protection to become our foundation.

What are you afraid of? Can you think of a promise from the word of God that shows God’s loving perspective on that fear?

Let me know if you need help. I may not have an answer off the top of my head, but I know my way around a concordance=}

 

 

Who Do You Want To Be For Me Today?

Our Creator is so vast and so transcendent and yet incarnate and indwelling that we cannot possibly experience all of him in this life. Our Creator is multifaceted. We can not see or experience all of Him at once. Graham Cooke talks about how our loving Abba knows what part of Him we need to connect with each day. We only have to ask God, what part of You do You want me to experience today? “Who do you want to be for me today?”

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. PS 23:2

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. PS 23:2

For me today, I need to experience the grace and rest of God. I had some minor out-patient surgery yesterday and I have to take it slowly for a few days. That is not my default gear…. but when I prayed and asked the question: “Who do you want to be for me today?” I knew today He would be my shepherd and restorer of my soul and body.
I know if I gave Him my oversized to do list, He will hold it until I am able to have Him give me the wisdom and strength to deal with it. No accusations in the delay and waiting, at least not from Abba!
When the time is right, the list will get done in the power of the Holy Spirit and not under my own strength. That is a relief especially when I don’t have the strength today.
And if I know who God is for me today, then I Know Who I am in Him today. If I need to allow him to be my gentle caring father then that means I am his beloved little girl today, above all else.
Other days, I am His mighty warrior and He is my fearless Commander in Chief. Or perhaps, He comes along side and gives me wisdom and courage, or forgiveness and absolution. All of the aspects of the multifaceted nature of God are found within the pages of the Bible. Many of them stated clearly and some implied.
So, today I rest in the knowledge of His grace and His care for me. His expectations of me are more realistic than mine are for myself.
What is going on in your life today? What facet of God do you need for your life today? It doesn’t have to be just one! Ask “Who do you want to be for me today?”